Junior A.J. Pollock.

Cole Johnson, Irish Baseball Outduel Oral Roberts, 2-1

March 6, 2009

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HOUSTON – Notre Dame senior Jeremy Barnes (Garland, Texas) went 2-for-4 with a go-ahead RBI single in the bottom of the eighth inning as the Irish knocked off Oral Roberts and ace starting pitcher Jerry Sullivan, 2-1, in the opening game from the 2009 Rice Classic Friday afternoon. Sullivan, who went 9-2 last season, had not lost in his last 15 appearances. Notre Dame improved to 4-3 on the season, while the Golden Eagles dropped to 5-2.

After the Golden Eagles tied the score, 1-1, on Tyler Garewal’s solo home run in the top of the eighth inning, Notre Dame answered. Junior A.J. Pollock (Hebron, Conn.) legged out an infield single and moved into scoring position on Juan Martinez’s throwing error. Pollock advanced to third base on junior David Mills’ (Battle Creek, Mich.) ground out and coasted home on Barnes’ clutch RBI single to right field.

Junior Steven Mazur (Round Rock, Texas) came on in the ninth inning and quickly retired Jeremiah Mejia and Danny Duffy on punch outs before getting Garewal to line out to Barnes and give the right-handed closer his first career save. Garewal smoked a line drive that Barnes’ managed to snag despite momentum totally carrying him the opposite direction.

Sophomore Todd Miller (Franklin, Tenn.) picked up the victory in relief and even his record at 1-1. He replaced Johnson in the seventh inning and worked around Johnson’s leadoff walk. After a Robert Barbosa sacrifice bunt, Johnny Roberts legged out an infield hit to put runners on the corners with one out. Miller got out of the jam with a pair of pop outs.

Miller was charged with one earned run on three hits in 2.0 innings. He struck out one and walked one.

Sophomore Cole Johnson (Hudson, Ohio) was nearly unhittable in the no-decision. The righty struck out a career-best seven and allowed just one Oral Roberts’ batter into scoring position. The only hit Johnson allowed was a third inning bunt single from Garewal.

The Golden Eagles got an equally impressive performance from Sullivan. The right-handed hurler scattered seven hits and allowed just two earned runs. Sullivan induced 15 ground ball outs.

Pollock and Barnes each went 2-for-4 with an RBI. Pollock also added a run scored.

The Irish threatened in the home-half of the fifth but the Golden Eagles were able to escape without any damage. Sophomore Greg Sherry (Mendham, N.J.) led off with an infield base hit, and advanced to second on a throwing error. After a sacrifice bunt advanced the runner to third, Sullivan fielded sophomore Golden Tate’s (Hendersonville, Tenn.) comebacker and was able to catch Sherry off the bag at third. Tate scampered to second on the play, but was stranded when Mills grounded out to end the inning.

The Golden Eagles escaped trouble once again the following inning. With runners on the corners and one out, Sullivan fanned Mick Doyle (LaGrange Park, Ill.) and Oral Roberts catcher Seth Furmanek threw David Casey (Whitefish Bay, Wisc.) out at first base. Notre Dame grabbed a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the third inning. Sophomore Cameron McConnell (Bannockburn, Ill.) drew a leadoff walk and moved into scoring position on Tate’s perfectly executed sacrifice bunt. Pollock followed with a line-drive double down the left field line to give the Irish the lead.

Notre Dame returns to action tomorrow afternoon against the host Owls. First pitch between the Irish and Rice is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. CT. Sophomore Brian Dupra (Rochester, N.Y.) will take the mound for Notre Dame.

— ND —